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College And Skiing

Are you interested in attending a college or university that has good skiing nearby?


Here are some recommendations (and some advice) from EpicSki members:


  • Alaska

University of Alaska, Anchorage, AK


The University of Alaska campus is nestled in a lush greenbelt filled with ponds, lakes, and spruce forests, surrounded by the mountains and glaciers of Chugach State Park and the beautiful Cook Inlet. An extensive system of trails provides opportunities for running, cross-country skiing, inline skating, and biking. The geographical features in the Anchorage area provide world-class climbing, downhill skiing, and snowboarding. Winters include snow from October to April but are less severe in Anchorage than in many other U.S. cities. 



  • Arizona

Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ

Nearby attractions: Arizona Snowbowl: 9 miles, Grand Canyon: 70 miles, Sedona: 27 miles, Phoenix/Scottsdale: 2 hours, Las Vegas: 3.5 hours, Los Angeles: 7.5 hours.


Northern Arizona University is only nine miles away from Arizona Snowbowl (http://www.arizonasnowbowl.com). With 17,529 students at its Flagstaff, AZ campus (7,000 elevation), Northern Arizona University or NAU was established in 1899 and is the perfect university choice in the Southwest US for those who want to mix their education with skiing/snowboarding culture. Boasting a wide selection of academic course selection with 95 undergraduate degree programs, and 57 graduate degree programs with an average class size of 30 -- so students will always receive the attention they need. The best thing about skiing in the West is that the sun is always shining. Flagstaff boasts 288 days of sunshine throughout the year. If you're sports minded, NAU falls into NCAA Division I with 15 sports teams. Arizona Snowbowl has short mid-week lines - which is great for after class snow play, as its not a resort with long-term lodging amenities. A student lift pass is only $299 if you buy pre-season in October - a bargain as one day lift pass rates are $53. 



  • Canada

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC


Only 30 minutes from the heart of downtown Vancouver, the University of British Columbia holds an international reputation for excellence in advanced research and learning. The spectacular UBC campus is a 'must-see' for any visitor to the city -- where snow-capped mountains meet ocean, and breathtaking vistas greet you around every corner.



Not sure how easy it is to attend for US citizens, but the exchange rate is great and Vancouver is awesomely located for outdoor sports. You can catch a city bus and be skiing at Grouse Mtn in 20 minutes, drive 20 minutes for better skiing at Cypress or drive 1.5 hrs and be at Whistler. Wilderness starts at city limits of North Van.



Quest University is in the town of Squamish ... 1hr from downtown Vancouver & 40mins by car from Whistler.  Squamish is known as the outdoor sports capital of Canada ... world class mountain biking, kite & wind surfing, rock climbing, etc etc.  I just live there but obviously love it ;-)


  • Colorado

Colorado Mountain College, a 2-year college with eleven campuses, including Aspen, Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, and Vail, CO


It may not be the answer your parents are looking for, but there is always Colorado Mountain College. It's a 2-year college with many locations including Breck, Aspen, Steamboat, and Vail. The key would be to switch majors every year so you are never expected to actually graduate. You could start with something like Ski Area Operations and then switch to Professional Fly Fishing Guide the next year. The possibilities are endless.


Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO


Colorado School of Mines is a public research university devoted to engineering and applied science. It has the highest admissions standards of any public university in Colorado and among the highest of any public university in the U.S.


Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO


Colorado State University is the “university of choice” for Colorado residents – 30% of all of Colorado's science, math, engineering and technology majors pursue degrees at CSU. In addition to its excellent programs in those areas, CSU offers among the very best professional programs in the United States in veterinary medicine, occupational therapy, journalism, agriculture and construction management.


University of Colorado, Boulder, CO


If you've got the scratch for the out-of-state tuition, try my alma mater, CU/Boulder, also known as Ski-U. For quick class cutting, highly underrated Eldora is just minutes away, and the rest of 'em are a bit further up.


My ticket to Colorado from Mass was CU Boulder which turned into the 'eight year plan' which included a three year ski 'sabbatical' because school was way secondary. I went back ready to hammer (and obtained residency) and worked Eldora on the weekends while in school and focused on school only during the week.


University of Denver (DU), Denver, CO


I've got to say for skiing, fishing and hiking University of Denver looks awesome. There's a train from Denver to Winter Park, and a free bus pass to get to the train station plus a pretty cheap season's pass. Many, many ski areas in Colorado and the schools in a good location to get to the outdoors.


Western State University, Gunnison, CO


This is Colorado. Climb a mountain. Do research. Publish a paper. Expand your natural curiosity.
2500 students and a faculty of 120. That's our community. That's your opportunity. That's your extreme learning experience.

Crested Butte is 28 miles from Gunnison.


  • Idaho

Boise State University, Boise, ID

Boise State is the largest university in Idaho. Nearby ski areas include Bogus Basin, Brundage, and SunValley.

The New York Times, July 2006:

Sitting at the junction of the arid plateau of the high desert and the western foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the capital of Idaho offers all the outdoor advantages of more ballyhooed Western towns but with less, well, ballyhoo.


North Idaho Collage


Coeur d' Alene, Idaho. 


Schweitzer Mt., Silver Mt., Lookout Pass, Mt. Spokane all within 30 min. to 1 hr drive. You have to like powder if you go there, if not remember you go to collage to learn.


The school sits on what could be the best beaches of the whole lake and has its own beach club with cheap rental sailboats and kayaks.  Oh yes it is pretty to National Geographic named Lake Cd'A one of the 10 most beautiful in the world. 


Tourist town so lots of young people in small swim suits, if you like that sort of thing.  Quite a few student job opportunities there too, if you need that sort of thing.


Spokane, WA is 20 miles down a flat interstate so there is a semi major airport, & good entertainment opportunities within range.  More school choices too.


Worth looking at.  Good luck.

  • Maine

Bates College, Lewiston, ME

Bates College hosted the 2009 NCAA Skiing Championships at Sunday River and Black Mountain.


Bates College, widely regarded as one of the finest liberal arts colleges in the nation, is dedicated to the principle of active engagement. A 10-1 student-faculty ratio makes possible close collaborations in classroom and laboratory, and the Bates learning experience is honed through seminars, research, service-learning, and the capstone of senior thesis. Typically, two-thirds of Bates' 1,700 students study abroad.


Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME

Another high-regarded liberal arts college located in Brunswick, Maine, a town of 21,000 on the Maine coast, with 1,700 enrollment. Bowdoin College students primarily ski at Sugarloaf and Shawnee Peak.


Colby College, Waterville, ME

Chartered in 1813, Colby is the 12th-oldest independent liberal arts college in the nation. Colby College's  Alpine Ski team competes in the NCAA and trains at Sugarloaf Mountain, in the heart of Carrabassett Valley.


  • Montana

Montana State University, Bozeman, MT

Nearby attractions: Bridger Bowl Ski Area, 16 miles; Big Sky Ski Resort, 45 miles; Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area, 10 miles; Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, 25 miles; Yellowstone National Park, 80 miles; Glacier National Park, 350 miles


If you are going to be on the average college budget you may also want to look for colleges and universities near good ski areas as opposed to resorts. They are usually a lot cheaper, skiing can be as good if not better than resorts, are typically less crowded on weekdays leaving the option to run up after class and ski instead of wait in line and, as for academics, it's really hard to study between runs on a high speed quad. Look for an area with cheap passes close to town and at least one old school chair lift with no line so you can ride single and study your notes. Bridger would be one, and I would weigh more heavily on this option than Big Sky. The thought of getting out of class and heading up the Canyon to catch a few runs does not appeal to me, and forget the weekends at Big Sky or any other resort, too crowded. I would look for something more like Bridger where you can get out of class around noon ski weekday afternoons and stay at home weekends and study and write papers while everyone else is skiing. ( or schedule mwf classes and ski all day tue and thurs ).



MSU is a smaller state university than say Penn State, so scheduling of classes is a bit chancier in terms of getting out in four years.  The student needs to take a good look at the depth of offerings in his/her area of interest and the timing of the course offerings.  On the other hand, the likelihood of getting "lost" is diminished compared to the larger schools.  Montana also has a way to become a "resident" of the state by living for a year and being a part time student and then qualifying in the future for resident level tuition that bears looking into. The campus is attractive, with a mix of dorm styles, although most students live off campus and save a substantial amount of money by doing so after freshman year.  The town has some great bars for older students. 


The skiing on Bridger's groomed runs will become boring quickly, but they have some hike-to and side country areas and a new lift-served-inbounds-if-you-have-a-beacon-and-a-shovel-area for the more adventurous that is sure to please.  Bridger is also quite affordable.  One problem is that the quality of the snow is quite light and the whole town gets out there and pounds the place on powder days so the cold smoke gets hit quickly.  The road to Big Sky and the price of the tickets are not conducive to a student's casual skiing between classes.  Within a few hours you can also drive to Discovery, Red Lodge, and a few other ski areas on your extended breaks.  Whitefish Mountain Resort would be six hours in the winter, Jackson Hole probably less.


The area abounds in activities for the outdoorsman -- hunting, fishing, hiking, skiing, rafting.  Definitely a year-round area.  You could come to Bozeman and never want to leave. 


See also:  http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/69737/msu-montana-state-u-bozeman

Montana State has strong programs in engineering, agriculture, many of the sciences, music and film. If you are majoring in one of those fields it is a great college.


University of Montana, Missoula, MT

Montana Snowbowl is just minutes from campus, and other nearby areas include Blacktail and Whitefish Mountain Resort, Discovery Basin, and Lost Trail Powder Mountain.

SKI Magazine:

Defined by a prestigious faculty, red-bricked architecture & expansive lawns, the century-old school is often referred to as the Harvard of the West.


  • Nevada

Sierra Nevada College, Incline Village, NV

brownie bear:

Small private college on the north shore of Tahoe. Expensive but great small town feel to the campus.  Everyone knows everyone. Very ski focused. They don't have a pre-med program but offer a degree in science and a good friend of mine got his degree there and then went on to med school.



My home mountain is in Lake Tahoe, so I am prejudiced.


Sierra Nevada College is no Dartmouth. But since its in Incline Vlillage, you have the access of the world famous beautiful Lake Tahoe. In addition, I think its in walking distance to Diamond Peak, its a small resort but the lake view from its slopes is spectacular.


The most significant program relate to skiing from Sierra Nevada College is described below:



The Sierra Nevada College Ski Business & Resort Management (SBRM) program is the nation’s only four-year bachelor’s degree focused on the mountain-resort industry, taking advantage of a strong curriculum, faculty with decades of resort management experience, and opportunities to gain hands-on training with a handful of America’s leading ski resort companies, all located a short distance from the spectacular Sierra Nevada College campus.


University of Nevada, Reno, NV

The University's two Reno campuses are in northwestern Nevada, just 15 minutes from the California border. Nestled in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the University is 45 minutes from Lake Tahoe and four hours from the San Francisco Bay Area.


  • New Hampshire

Dartmouth, Hanover, NH

Ski at the Dartmouth Skiway and the Dartmouth Ski Touring Center


A member of the Ivy League, Dartmouth is a superb undergraduate residential college with the intellectual character of a university, featuring thriving research and first-rate graduate and professional programs. This unique combination creates a highly personal learning environment for our exceptional students and faculty.


Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH

Virtus Probi:

Plymouth State University in NH is roughly half an hour from Loon, Cannon, and Waterville Valley, and there is a small place to ski right in town, Tenney Mountain. I thought that Tenney had been closed for years and just learned a few weeks ago that it is open, don't know a thing about it. PSU has a reputation as a teacher's school, and I played baseball several years ago with a grade school teacher who had gone there.


  • New Mexico

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

UNM's Ski Team trains at Taos Ski Valley, Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area, Red River Ski Area, Sandia Ski Area, Angel Fire Resort, and Ski Santa Fe.




  • Utah

University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT


The University of Utah should also be looked at. I don't know much about the education there, but my girlfriend is doing her masters there, and has mentioned that it is a leading school in her field. Distance to 7 major ski resorts; 45 minutes or less. Price of a student pass this season at Alta; $475. Fishing is close by, but great fishing is a few hours away at the Green River.


Utah State University, Logan, UT

Bill Emmett:

As a graduate in secondary ed., let me put in a plug for my alma mater, Utah State University, located in Logan, Utah up near the Idaho border. 30 minute drive up Logan Canyon gets you to Beaver Mountain, home of the $25 day pass and NO lift lines on weekdays. A two hour drive south gets Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. A bit farther and all of the Wasatch Front awaits.


  • Vermont

Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT 


Since the first trails were cut in 1934, the Middlebury College Snow Bowl has witnessed one of the richest skiing traditions in the country.
The third-oldest ski area in Vermont, the Middlebury College Snow Bowl has hosted college winter sports competition for nearly 70 years, and more recently has become, with the Rikert Touring Center, the permanent host of the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association championships each winter, during the Middlebury Winter Carnival. The Snow Bowl, just half an hour from campus, provides on-snow training opportunities daily for the Middlebury alpine teams, and the ski area’s staff and volunteer workers have become justly famous for running high-quality competitions.


University of Vermont, Burlington, VT


The University of Vermont combines faculty-student relationships most commonly found in a small liberal arts college with the resources of a major research institution. UVM's setting in a valley on the shores of Lake Champlain, between the Adirondack and the Green mountain ranges, inspires visitors and residents.


Vt skier:
I'll second my alma mater - the University of Vermont. Skiing is 45 minutes away tops - and I believe Stowe, Sugarbush, and Smuggler's all offer discounted passes. There are plenty of streams, lakes, and rivers for fishing. Plus Burlington is one great college town.


  • Washington

Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA


Gonzaga’s educational philosophy, based on the centuries-old Ignatian model of educating the whole person – mind, body and spirit. At Gonzaga, students discover how to integrate science and art, faith and reason, action and contemplation. "Cura personalis," or care for the individual, is our guiding theme.



Spokane has awesome skiing and fishing within a two hour radius. As well Spokane has a very competitive airline market.


University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Good-to-great skiing within 30 minutes to 3 hours and a very good pre-med program.


I go to the University of Washington and I love it. Skiing is a hour from campus and there are numerous places to fish, hike, camp, rock climb, basically any outdoor activity. I love it here and highly recommend it.


Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA

The university is 90 miles (140 km) north of Seattle, 55 miles (89 km) south of Vancouver, BC, and an hour’s drive from 10,778 foot (3285 m) Mt. Baker.


Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA

Whitman is a nationally recognized, highly selective, residential liberal arts college.There are two small ski areas nearby: Ski Bluewood is located 52 miles southeast of Walla Walla in the Blue Mountains, near Dayton. Spout Springs at Tollgate Mountain touts a top elevation of 5,550 feet with 550 feet of vertical drop and much of the hill is well lighted for night skiing.


  • Wyoming

University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY

The university has a great competitive Nordic Skiing program (USCSA) and Snowy Range Ski Area is nearby, with 1000' of vertical and season passes priced as low as $150.



Advice from your elders...

(jasdmd0) Not that you'll likely want to hear this, and I'm sure I'll take some heat for it here, but shouldn't your college decision be based on academics first, not your ability to take advantage of as many days as possible on your college discount season pass??? Find a school where a) you feel comfortable b) it has not just an isolated area of courses in what you think you want to major in now, but also a broad number of areas(nobody ever changes their major: ) and then if it happens to be near a ski area, great. If you have to drive a bit, no big deal.

If you get a solid education now in an academic area that you enjoy, you'll be suprised at how long term that will end up with you getting more ski days at a greater diversity of ski areas than if you look at college as a chance to get as many days in now and worry about the rest of your life later.

Myself, personally, I went to Renssealer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY (I had some smaller areas in the Berkshires 30 minutes a way, and anywhere in Vermont could be reached within a 4 hour drive (Mt Snow was an hour, Killington 2 hours, Stowe 3 hours and Jay Peak 4 hours). I averaged 20 days a season in college (essentially all in the East). Now that I'm out in the real world for almost 15 years now (man I'm feeling old typing that!), because I went to a school where I received a first rate education in an area I enjoy, it has allowed me professionally to do quite well, and hence I now am able to have the time and financial resources to average 40 days a year (with on average a couple of trips West each year to supplement my New England based home days).

On the flip side, there are quite a few both strong academic schools with decent proximity to Eastern ski areas that exist. UVM, Dartmouth, Colby, etc.


(skier219) Sadly, jasdmd0 gives some good advice. I have followed much the same path. I would add that you should really worry about where to live/work *after* you graduate and get a job -- that's when it matters! You'll have more time and more $$. That's the time to relocate to Montana!

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